Scholars who attended the RO Scholars Evening at USP’s Laucala Campus.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Research Office (RO) hosted an evening for its scholars at the Australia-Pacific Performance Space at the Laucala Campus on 9 March, 2017.
It was an opportunity for students to meet and greet each other and interact with their Associate Deans and staff of the Research Office, which sponsors twenty per cent (20%) of Masters and PhD students every year.
This semester, the RO is sponsoring a total of seventy-two (72) students, forty-two (42) of whom are undertaking Masters by Research and thirty (30) PhD.
A total of 376 students registered for research programmes this year, 257 of whom are doing Masters by Research and 119 are pursuing PhD.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation, and International said the increasing number of students marks a significant growth.
“Today is a very important day in our calendar because it is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of every one of you students who are really the driving force behind so much of the research activity that takes place at the University”.
“In reality students contribute an enormous amount to the research culture at the University and indeed to the research outputs where most of you are also involved in publications,” he noted.
Professor Armstrong said research students contributed to the intellectual environment at USP and to its vibrancy.
He explained there were efforts by USP to increase the number of research graduates, particularly in Masters by research.
Students were also told that since its establishment, the RO continued to look for ways to improve student experience. One of these he said was trying to collaborate with the Library and Faculties to pull together a series of research training workshops.
“We also want opportunities for postgraduate students to focus on improving the quality of their writing, have them gain access to funding, attend conferences and improve the way they communicate their ideas,” he noted.
“We are constantly looking at ways to improve our services one of which is developing a student portal which is expected to be fully operational soon,” Professor Armstrong added.
The scholarship opportunities administered by the RO for research students include the PhD Completion Scholarship, PGR Residency Scholarship, Graduate Scholarships, Sylff Scholarships at USP, Regional PhD Scholarships at USP, Write Up Scholarships and Conference Funding.
Some of the issues brought up by students included:
Opportunities for industry engagement during the term of the research candidature;
Funding for Post-Doctoral Fellowship at USP;
The lack of consistency in quality of supervision; and
Need for honorarium for external supervisors
In response, the panel which included Professor Armstrong and Associate Deans (Research) Professor Sushil Kumar, Dr Frances Vakauta and Dr Gurmeet Singh including Student Coordinator Shaiza Janif, reiterated that work is ongoing in improving all aspects of postgraduate research experience at USP.
The panel also indicated that the students’ suggestions will be taken on board, particularly creating the Post-Doctoral Fellowship opportunity and allocating an honorarium for external supervisors for timely completion.
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